Sunday, November 03, 2013

BIMI study day: Cognition at the Movies

I am proud to announce the first 'Cognition at the Movies' study day hosted by myself and Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI).

Saturday November 9th 10am to 6:30pm (B35, Birkbeck, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX; number 1 on the map

Since cinema’s inception filmmakers and theorists have been interested in the relationship between film and its audience. How do directorial decisions influence what we see on the screen and how does a viewer’s prior beliefs and interests influence how they experience a film? Cognitive Science, the interdisciplinary investigation of mental phenomena using theories and techniques from neuroscience, psychology and philosophy has recently begun to be applied to these questions of film cognition. This workshop will bring together film theorists, cognitive psychologists and philosophers in an exploration of the relationship between film and its audience.

Keynote presentation ‘by Prof Torben Grodal (Copenhagen) author of Moving Pictures and Embodied Visions.

Comic Entertainment, Film, and the Embodied Brain
The lecture will first provide a short description of how muscles and action is important for the embodied brain and for our experience of narratives.  The basis for the standard narrative reflects the Brain’s PECMA flow: Perception, Emotion, Cognition, and Motor Action. Characters and viewers want to modify some states of the world by motor action, including verbal actions. The lecture will then discuss the embodied brain’s three ’bail out’ mechanisms where the modification of the world by action is supplanted with self-modification: Crying, as in sad melodramas, laughter, as in comedies, and freeze reactions as effects of sublime submission to the exterior world. The lecture will especially focus on comic entertainment and discuss the processes that allows the brain to evaluate something as ’not real’, as ’not a cause for action’ and redirect the arousal from a given scene from tense world-directedness to laughter. It will finally discuss the social nature of comic entertainment and those mammalian play-functions that serve as facilitators for the reality status evaluations in comic entertainment that makes it possible to experience shame, failure and other negative events with a strongly positive hedonic tone.

Event is free but please register as spaces are limited:


9:30-10 Registration

10-10:15 Welcome and Introduction
10:15-11 Prof. Ian Christie (Birkbeck) - Psychology in the dark: just what is it we want to know?
11-11:45 Dr. William Brown (Roehampton) - He(u)retical Film Theory: Cinema and the Brain
11:45-12:30 Prof. Sheena Rogers (James Mason U.) - Towards Transcendence: Cognitive Components of the Sublime in Art

12:30-1:30 Lunch break

1:30-2:30 KEYNOTE: Prof. Torben Grodal (Copenhagen) - Comic Entertainment, Film, and the Embodied Brain
2:30-3:15 Dr. Paul Taberham  (Kent-Canterbury) - Avant-Garde Film in an Evolutionary Context
3:15-4:00 Prof. Murray Smith (Kent-Canterbury) - Murder Ballads

4-4:15   Coffee break

4:15-35 Steve Hinde  (Bristol) - A Study of Attention  while People Watch Movies.
4:35-5 Parag K. Mital (Goldsmiths) - Resynthesizing Perception
5-5:45 Dr. Tim J. Smith  (Birkbeck) - Cinematic Universality: Do I see the same movie you see?
5:45 - 6:30 Discussion

6:30 + Wine reception

For further information email